Incentivizing games for teams with locked playoff seeding
I've been thinking about this whole "rest the starters" BS that can artificially affect playoff scenarios. The league needs to start offering incentives to teams whose playoff position is locked to win games. This will maximize the number of meaningful games and introduce the least amount of artificiality into playoff scenarios.
NOTE: I'm not begrudging the Jets. Read my posts. You'll see I'm high on the Jets. I'm rooting for them to win the SB. I think it would be real poetic justice if they win it, particularly if they beat Minnesota in the big dance.
I'm thinking these will have to be awarded for "wins in games that have no effect on playoff seeding" and could come in several forms ...
1. If the team is locked at the #1 seed, then they could be offered choice of opponent coming out of the Wild Card round, instead of lowest-seed. So, now a team can pick an opponent who is on the decline or missing a key starter. Conversely, they could avoid an opponent with whom they don't match up well (e.g. IND doesn't match up well with HOU) or avoid a team that is really peaking. Or they could stick two really evenly matched teams with each other in a super physical wear/tear divisional playoff.
2. They could get week16, week17 MNF games NEXT SEASON giving them the option of seeing how things play out. So, they could have the option of resting key starters next year if absolutely necessary.
3. They could get additional Thursday Night games NEXT SEASON. Playing on Thursday is an advantage as your TNF opponent also has the short week, but you get 10 days rest to 7 days rest for your next opponent.
4. Advantage in the "floating games." Every team plays two "adjust games" against the divisions in the same conference where they don't play everybody. You play the teams that finished in the same positional standing within division that you did. Well, you could offer "choice of teams" as an incentive or you could give them teams that are 1 notch down from same-standing (everyone else adjusts).
Any other ideas out there?